Common Afrikaans Phrases

May 27th, 2013

A collection of basic phrases in Afrikaans that will be useful to anyone travelling to South Africa or Namibia.

Afrikaans Phrases: Basics

Let’s start where we always start: Saying hello! A simple hi in Afrikaans is haai! or you can say hallo! if you’re feeling cheerful. Good morning is goeiemôr and good evening is goeienaand. To be polite and ask after someone, you can say hoe gaan dit met jou? which means simply how are you? If asked this, you can respond with goed, dankie – which you almost don’t even need a translator to figure out, do you?

Saying goodbye is just as simple: Good night is goeienag, a simple “good bye” is totsiens (which I personally remember by thinking it stands for toodaloo).

Afrikaans: More Advanced

Here are a few more phrases to cover some basic situations you might encounter while travelling. One that everyone who hasn’t actually learn the local lingo should memorise is “do you speak English,” (praat jy Engels) because you’re going to need it! You’ll also need “can you speak slowly?” (kan jy langsaam praat?, “I don't understand!” (Ek begryp nie dit nie!) and “my Afrikaans is bad” (my Afrikaans is sleg) – you might as well admit it!

When you get into trouble, sorry is always a good word to know. If you missed something, you can say verskoon my, and if you’re apologising you can say jammer.

Afrikaans: Trouble

If you get into trouble, two phrases always prove to be incredibly useful. First of all, if you’re feeling poorly, you can tell someone “I need a doctor” by saying Ek het 'n dokter nodig. That should get help to you quickly.

The other phrase is the most important phrase I can teach anyone in any language: “Where is the bathroom?” I personally believe the importance of this phrase when you’re a stranger in a strange land simply cannot be overstated, so learn it well. In Afrikaans it’s “waar is die badkamer.”

As always, I encourage you to dive a little deeper. You may not have time to formally study a language like Afrikaans, but you can certainly become a bit more familiar – and the more phrases you learn the more you can combine them into more complex speech, even if some of the grammatical niceties aren’t followed. Don’t be afraid!

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